Duterte called him 'Mr. Speaker'

Martin Romualdez

THE speakership bid of Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez got another huge boost when he joined President Rodrigo “Rody” Duterte’s surprise inspection at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Monday morning where the Chief Executive called him “Mr. Speaker.”

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez, the chairman of the House Committee on Public Accounts, welcomed the airport inspection as a positive development in Romualdez’s speakership quest.

“Magandang gesture na kasama si Martin sa airport inspection ni Presidente,” Suarez told reporters in a press conference.

“Kaya kung comfortable si Presidente kay Martin, walang diperensya because ang thinking nila Martin can deliver and work closely with the members. Maganda ang background ni Martin sa economics. He came from very good schools like Harvard,” said Suarez.

Romualdez is the president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).  He was the House Independent Bloc leader of the previous 16th Congress or during the Aquino administration.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from the Ivy League school, in Cornell University, and a Certificate of Special Studies in Administration and Management from Harvard University. He also earned his Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of the Philippines (UP).

Well-placed sources said President Duterte invited Romualdez to join the airport inspection and called him “Mr. Speaker” in the presence of Senator-elect Bong Go, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo and others.

Sources said Romualdez even shared a ride with President Duterte in the latter’s vehicle going to the NAIA’s Terminal 2 after attending the wake of the late Sendeng Loo Gaisano at the Sanctuario de San Antonio in Forbes Park where the two talked privately.

In a free for all speakership fight, Suarez said Romualdez would win the speakership race.

“I will repeat again my projection that Cong Martin has the edge vs. other candidates. Martin will be a good Speaker,” said Suarez.

Suarez said many members of President Duterte’s ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) are also backing the speakership bid of Romualdez

“Marami kasing PDP na pumirma kay Martin eh. They have signed their desire to make Martin with the colatilla na huwag lang magbibigay ng marching order ang Palasyo,” said Suarez, referring to the manifesto of support of more than 153 lawmakers backing the speakership bid of Romualdez on condition that President Duterte will not endorse any candidate.